I’m a huge fan of the TV series Scrubs. So is my husband. The main characters are Turk and JD, played by Donald Faison and Zach Braff. We often joke about it being one of the greatest love stories ever told. A bromance to test all others against. In Season 5, Episode 14, Turk and his wife, Carla, are trying to conceive a baby. Carla makes a comment about Turk possibly being sterile, and moments later you see Turk curled up, crying out, “I’m a man! Men can make babies!” While that moment was exaggerated for TV, I know on some level that’s how my husband felt when we found out about his sterility and our impending infertility testing and treatment.
Some of the things that men should hear during infertility treatment (and testing) are:
- A man is not a father because his sperm fathered a child. At an adoption and infertility conference, Joshua Redfern, an adoption social worker and adoptive father of four, explained the way he and his wife, who are infertile, build their family. I don’t remember his specific words, but it was something along the lines of: “I am intimate with my wife, a woman gets pregnant, and I get to be a dad.” It brought some humor to the situation.
- Some of the greatest men in history went through infertility. George Washington was thought to be sterile. Despite all the great things he did, he was never able to father a child. If good old George can make it through, so can he! This was something the reproductive endocrinologist told Tyson.
- Your shared fertility struggles do not lessen him in your eyes. He’s still the most amazing man and your love hasn’t changed.
- It’s not his “fault.” Or your “fault.” You’re in this together. As a couple you have infertility.
- You’re not going to force him into any treatments/tests he isn’t comfortable with. This one hits really close to home for us. When we had finished my infertility testing and gotten my diagnosis (both of us contribute equally to our infertility), it was time for his testing. We started with non-invasive tests first and quickly reached the point where they wanted to do some potentially very painful tests. The first words out of my mouth were to remind him that it was his body and I wasn’t going to make those choices for him. He had control over that. As he should.
Cherish your relationship with your husband. Make sure he knows that infertility doesn’t diminish his manliness in any way. Spend time focusing on him as your husband, not just as the potential father of your children. Infertility can provide a great opportunity for the two of you to grow closer as you learn to work through it together.